State Revenue and Rainy Day Reserves
Dear Legislator, As a constituent who is supportive of public education and health care, as well as the social and economic condition of our state, I am writing to ask for your support in ensuring that every student, from pre-k through higher education, has access to a high-quality public education and that all New Yorkers have access to social supports during this critical time. One way we can help to achieve this is to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share. The COVID-19 virus is taking a devastating toll on the state of New York, its people, its public schools, colleges and its local governments. Our state is in desperate need of critical resources and we need them now. Throughout the state, students are losing their trusted educators and programs are being slashed. A lack of action from Washington, coupled with New York's uncertain economic outlook has caused New York State's Division of the Budget to withhold twenty percent of funds from various programs, including education. This action has recently caused school districts throughout the state to announce nearly 10,000 layoffs in order to balance their books.
The state must take action now to address these staggering cuts to public education — from pre-k through higher education. The state can do this by pursuing new sources of revenue. The state can also access nearly $7 billion dollars in reserves and rainy day funds, through executive action. The state should act quickly, or it risks causing irreparable harm to state and local finances, education and health care systems throughout the state. New York will face a deficit of $14.5 billion in the current fiscal year, with an estimated deficit of $61 billion over the next four years. While I remain hopeful that we will receive additional funding from the federal government at some point, our students, patients and working New Yorkers cannot wait for what may come. With such substantial deficit projections, we must act now to shore up support for our programs and to help rebuild our state. To help achieve these goals, I ask that you support the enactment of two revenue enhancers: a progressive income tax for those with incomes over $5 million; and a "pied-à-terre" tax on luxury second homes in New York City. I also ask you to support the use of the nearly $7 billion in reserve and rainy day funds the state currently has on hand. A progressive tax plan on state residents making more than $5 million per year, as laid out in S.8164 (May)/A.10364 (Simotas), would raise several billion dollars in new revenue. From 2009, when the millionaire's tax was first enacted, to 2016, the number of millionaires in New York grew by 72 percent and their wealth increased by 54 percent. By comparison, the wealth of non-millionaires had only risen by 33 percent during that time. Another revenue source the state should pursue is the "pied-à-terre" tax, as proposed in S.44 (Hoylman)/A.4540 (Glick), which is a tax on luxury, non-primary residences in New York City with an assessed value of over $5 million. The enactment of this legislation would add roughly $650 million per year to state coffers. The state fiscal plan update for the first quarter shows there is nearly $7 billion in reserve and rainy day funds. I believe these funds should be released and deployed to stem the devastation being felt by New Yorkers at the local level. This does not require legislative approval, merely executive action, but I ask you to lend your voice to the chorus of everyday New Yorkers calling for the use of these funds.
The infusion of funding from these new state revenue sources and rainy day reserves will help to keep our state and its social programs afloat and provide our public schools, colleges and health care institutions with the resources they require to properly educate their students and treat those seeking care. Therefore, I urge you to co-sponsor these legislative initiatives and work with your leadership to bring these measures to the floor for a vote. I also urge you to use your voice to ensure that the rainy day funds and reserves are used immediately for the benefit of the people.
Thank you for your consideration of these important issues, and I would appreciate a reply to my email. Sincerely,
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